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by John Exell

When I was young, my view of madness was uninformed.
There was the screaming woman,
Locked in her room, in Victorian novels.
There was my Auntie Gladys,
Whom no-one ever talked about except in hushed whispers.
They were distant, removed,
Misunderstood objects of ridicule.

Then I had my illness.
I became as the screaming woman and my Auntie Gladys.
Was my idea of myself
The same as I had of them?
Underneath it all,
I was still the same child playing with my friends;
Yet I was ashamed.
I couldn't do things like I used to,
People treated me differently,
I had strange thoughts, strange feelings;
But I was still the same person, still the same child.

The screaming woman and my Auntie Gladys
Were still human beings, lost children.

It was a shock, a terrible shock,
To realise that I was the same as these people;
But if I correct my childhood view,
And see them with warmth and understanding,
I will see myself with warmth and understanding.


John Exell